HIV coverage set to expand
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1. There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions more people will be eligible for health insurance, including many people with HIV. Currently, insurers will be required to fully cover annual counseling and screening for HIV infection for all sexually active women, as well as HIV screening for adolescents and adults who are at higher risk for contracting HIV. In November, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all Americans aged 15-65 receive routine HIV testing, not just those most at risk. If finalized, this would mean insurers would have to cover HIV screening without a co-pay.
The Affordable Care Act provides unprecedented opportunities for Americans to work together in changing the course of this epidemic. With new investments in sex education and the evolution of health technology as a means to educate and communicate with more people than ever before, we have new tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood health centers will play a large role in translating these new requirements into expanded access to health care for people across the country. Planned Parenthood is among the nation’s leading providers of HIV screening in the U.S. In fact, one in three women who receive an HIV test is tested at a women’s health center like Planned Parenthood. In 2011, Planned Parenthood affiliates conducted 680,000 HIV tests, a 16 percent increase from 2010.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is working to reduce the high rates of sexually transmitted infections through education and screenings, in an effort to create the healthiest generation ever. PPNNE health centers provide quality, nonjudgmental care to women, men, and young people, regardless of their ability to pay. Last year, PPNNE saw 17,100 patients in Vermont and provided 23,378 HIV/STD screenings.
On World AIDS Day and every day, there is much to be done. Talk to your friends and family about this global problem, ensure your loved ones get the information and care they need and deserve, and let your legislators know that you support investments in family planning. To make an appointment for HIV testing, visit www.ppnne.org
(President, Planned Parenthood
of Northern New England)